Labor unions rally against cuts to public services at City Hall

Labor unions rally against cuts to public services at City Hall

Protesters gathered at City Hall Monday to join a labor union-led protest rallying for Black lives and against the widening inequities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The protest was one of 25 taking place nationwide.

“It’s health, education, access to loans and financing, neighborhoods that depreciate in value – there’s an entire system that excludes and oppresses people,” said Jason Mitchell, a San Francisco resident. “To unify the country, we have to come to terms with the brutality of racism and white supremacy.”

Speakers paid tribute to U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who died Friday. Theresa Rutherford, vice president of Services Employees International Union Local 1021, cited as inspiration Lewis’ march from Selma to Montgomery in March of 1965, in which he and other civil rights leaders were stopped and beaten by state troopers. Lewis’ fight for civil rights, Rutherford said, helped enact the Voting Rights Act in 1965 which prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

“This man helped make real change and we’re here to continue to make those real changes,” Rutherford said.

In advance of Mayor London Breed’s announcement of The City’s proposed budget on July 31, protesters also rallied against potential cuts to public services in the face of a $1.5 billion deficit over the next two years, demanding Breed prevent service reductions, furloughs and layoffs.

The workers who would bear the brunt of cuts, Rutherford added, include nurses, clerks and janitors.

“These frontline workers are also people with families dealing with the pandemic,” Rutherford said. “A lot of them are single mothers, some of the lowest paid workers in the city and the country. There is no reason for the mayor or the city to give up their pay. They already earn very little. They should be able to thrive and save lives.”

The labor union has already delayed wage increase for the next year in the face of budget shortfalls due to the pandemic, Rutherford added: “We agreed to give that up and then [Breed] came back and said to us: ‘Now I want you to give that up for two years.’ Which frontline worker, which single mother can afford to do that?”

Bianca Polovina, an employee at the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) and a member of International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 21, said that corporations and billionaires must also start paying their fair share.

A ballot measure proposed by Supervisors Matt Haney and Hilary Ronen, would levy a tax on CEOs earning at least 100 times the median income of their average workers. The initiative is just one among a series of potential tax hikes on the ballot for November.

“Every year, [OLSE] recovers millions of dollars that employers have basically stolen in wages and benefits for their workforce,” Polovina said. “And we’ve seen even before COVID-19 how the broken economy works only for the people on the very top and exploits the labor of workers of color, especially Black workers [and] immigrant workers as well.”

Deanna Chan, an occupational therapist in San Francisco and a member of IFPTE Local 21, said she along with other health care workers joined the rally to support Black Lives and ensure that city employees’ salaries do not get cut.

Health care workers have been deployed to work at hotels and assist people who are unhoused, she added. “We’ve been doing everything asked of us,” she said.

“We’re here on behalf of the city to do everything we can get through this pandemic,” Chan said. “We need the support of everyone so we can keep doing our jobs and help others.”

Bay Area Newssan francisco news

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

 

Protesters gathered at City Hall supporting Black Lives and opposing cuts to public services on July 20, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Protesters gathered at City Hall supporting Black Lives and opposing cuts to public services on July 20, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Honey Mahogany, a legislative aide for Supervisor Matt Haney and a member of IFPTE Local 21 spoke to protesters on July 20, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Honey Mahogany, a legislative aide for Supervisor Matt Haney and a member of IFPTE Local 21 spoke to protesters on July 20, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Protesters gathered at City Hall supporting Black Lives and opposing cuts to public services on July 20, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Protesters gathered at City Hall supporting Black Lives and opposing cuts to public services on July 20, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Supervisor Asha Safai spoke in front of City Hall on July 20, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Supervisor Asha Safai spoke in front of City Hall on July 20, 2020. (Nicholas Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

In his extensive filming of The City during the pandemic, Eric Goodfield said he has been “observing how the environment affects the behavior of people.” (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Filmmaker Eric Goodfield fixes lens on SF’s COVID days

140 days of shooting in The City made for ‘greatest adventure’

Most Read